How hu­mans, pets can co-ex­ist with coy­otes

Tips on how to be neigh­bors with ‘song dogs’

The Covington News - - Agriculture & Outdoors -

SO­CIAL CIR­CLE — The dis­tinc­tive call of the coy­ote or “ song dog” can be heard all across our state — from the more wel­com­ing rural ar­eas of wooded forests and open fields to the less invit­ing back­yards of metro At­lanta neigh­bor­hoods.

Rapid hu­man pop­u­la­tion growth across the state cou­pled with the coy­ote’s unique abil­ity to adapt and thrive wher­ever food is avail­able, con­trib­utes to to­day’s in­creased ob­ser­va­tion of coy­otes in ur­ban set­tings.

The Ge­or­gia De­part­ment of Nat­u­ral Re­sources’ Wildlife Re­sources Di­vi­sion ( WRD) en­cour­ages res­i­dents to ed­u­cate them­selves and take the proper pre­cau­tions es­sen­tial in co- ex­ist­ing with coy­otes.

“ His­tor­i­cally, coy­otes were most com­monly found on the Great Plains of North Amer­ica. How­ever, their range has ex­panded from Cen­tral Amer­ica to the Arc­tic,” said John Bow­ers, As­sis­tant Chief of WRD Game Man­age­ment. “ They are one of the most adapt­able species on the planet.

“ In fact, coy­otes have adapted quite well to liv­ing in sub­urbs and cities like Los An­ge­les, New York and At­lanta.” Pre­ven­tive meth­ods are the best so­lu­tions for res­i­dents to re­duce the po­ten­tial for hu­man- coy­ote con­flicts.”

Though the coy­ote’s prin­ci­pal diet typ­i­cally con­sists of small ro­dents and fruit, they are char­ac­ter­ized as “ op­por­tunis­tic” and will prey on small do­mes­tic an­i­mals if given the op­por­tu­nity.

Be­cause of this, small house pets ( es­pe­cially cats), young or small live­stock and poul­try are vul­ner­a­ble and sus­cep­ti­ble prey.

WRD ad­vises landown­ers and home­own­ers to heed the fol­low­ing pre­cau­tions to en­sure the safety of their an­i­mals:

• Take pets in­doors dur­ing the night, as this is the coy­ote’s pri­mary hunt­ing time. ( In ad­di­tion to coy­otes, small pets may fall prey to free- roam­ing dogs and great horned owls.)

• If the pet must be kept out­side, in­stall fenc­ing and flood lights to dis­cour­age preda­tors.

• Small live­stock or poul­try should be kept in an en­closed or shel­tered area.

Coy­otes rarely bother larger live­stock al­though they are of­ten blamed for such nui­sance in­stances. ( It should be noted that freeroam­ing dogs, rather than coy­otes, are no­to­ri­ous for ha­rass­ing, dam­ag­ing or killing live­stock.)

WRD en­cour­ages res­i­dents to also heed the ad­di­tional fol­low­ing tips in an ef­fort to min­i­mize coy­ote food sources and lessen the like­li­hood of nui­sance coy­otes:

• NEVER, un­der any cir­cum­stances, feed a coy­ote.

• Keep items, such as grills, pet food or bird feed­ers off- lim­its.

Clean and


grills when not in use, keep pet food in­doors or feed pets in­doors and re­fill bird feed­ers in­fre­quently and in small amounts.

• Make trash cans in­ac­ces­si­ble. Keep lids se­curely fas­tened or store trash cans in the garage un­til trash day.

• Ad­di­tional so­lu­tions against nui­sance coy­otes in­clude trap­ping and/ or hunt­ing.

Be­cause coy­otes are a non- na­tive species in Ge­or­gia, there is no closed hunt­ing or trap­ping sea­son.

WRD does NOT of­fer trap­ping ser­vices, but main­tains a list of per­mit­ted and li­censed trap­pers across the state.

Res­i­dents in­ter­ested in hir­ing a private trap­per can con­tact the lo­cal WRD of­fice or call 770- 918- 6416 for a re­fer­ral.

“ The Di­vi­sion re­ceives nu­mer­ous calls each year. Most call­ers re­port the sight­ing of a coy­ote or re­quest coy­ote re­lo­ca­tion,” Bow­ers said. “ Re­lo­ca­tion is not a so­lu­tion. Re­lo­cat­ing coy­otes only moves the prob­lem into some­one else’s back­yard.

“ It also usu­ally means a slower death for wild an­i­mals be­cause once re­leased into a com­pet­ing an­i­mal’s ter­ri­tory, they must fight for dom­i­nance in unfamiliar sur­round­ings. Trap­ping and killing ag­gres­sive coy­otes is the only rea­son­able way to keep them out of back­yards.”

While coy­otes closely re­sem­ble a small dog in ap­pear­ance, the dis­tinc­tive char­ac­ter­is­tics that set the species apart are up­right, pointed ears, a pointed snout, low fore­head, a mot­tled color fur pat­tern rang­ing from black to red­dish- blonde and a bushy tail that is gen­er­ally car­ried straight out be­low the level of its back.

For more in­for­ma­tion re­gard­ing coy­otes, visit the WRD Web site at www. geor­giaw­ildlife. com, con­tact a WRD Game Man­age­ment Of­fice or call ( 770) 918- 6416.

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